Black forest cupcakes from Miel y Leche, photo by Flickr user Mass Distraction
I will dish on the other cupcakes I tried in Minneapolis very soon (Cupcake and Franklin Street Bakery, didn't get to try A Baker's Wife) but was really struck by talking to Sheela Namakkal of Miel y Leche. She is super smart and passionate about cupcakes, and what impresed me the most, aside from her delicious-tasting cupcakes, is her willingness to go out on a limb for her customers. She takes their tastes and requests into consideration and truly cares about her products (and even has a cupcake tattoo). Just look at some of the cupcake flavors on her rotating list of offerings: Chocolate with Raspberry Rhubarb Jam and Fresh Raspberries, Roasted Peach with Lime Ginger Buttercream, Mango Lassi. I mean, mango lassi?? I love when I'm blown away by cupcake flavors I've never even considered.
vegan cranberry orange cupcakes with cinnamon clove buttercream from Miel y Leche; photo by Flickr user massdistraction
I'll have an interview here with her soon, but wanted to share some Cupcake Saturday photos from Flickr user massdistraction (aka Sharyn Morrow) and this tidbit from an article in alt weekly City Pages. Seriously, if you're in the Twin Cities, you must check out these cupcakes. Plus I bought cupcake notecards at Letterbox Creative while I was in town!
They're so good partly because Namakkal brings a chef's sophistication about flavor and ingredients to the process. For instance, for her Mexican hot chocolate cupcakes Namakkal incorporates cornmeal into the batter to mimic the coarse texture of real Mexican hot chocolate. Then she seasons the batter with enough cinnamon and cayenne to lend the little darlings a lingering finish and a lot of zing. She makes her own fresh lemon curd for her limoncello cupcakes and haunts the St. Paul Farmers' Market looking for in-season local fruit to use either as a filling or a topping—or both, in the case of her chocolate cupcakes with raspberry-rhubarb jam and fresh raspberries.
Just as important as her chef's palate, Namakkal brings a sense of whimsy and a wedding-cake decorator's insane ambition: Her peanut-butter-and-jelly cupcakes start with a plain vanilla cupcake, layer in homemade Concord grape jelly and a peanut-butter mousse, and are topped with two fresh little Concord grapes. Each cake is nothing less than a teensy edible sculpture on the theme of peanut butter and jelly. Her s'mores cupcakes are made by baking graham-cracker-flavored cupcakes in a graham-cracker crust, filling them with chocolate ganache and marshmallow fluff, and topping them with a dollhouse-perfect mini-s'more, itself topped with a bit of marshmallow that has been sliced thinly, cut into a decorative flower, and toasted with a culinary torch—for $3.
Snowball cupcakes by Miel y Leche; photo by Flickr user massdistraction
And because I just couldn't resist (I dare you to start checking out massdistraction's cupcake photos and not get totally sucked in), here's one showing some of the filling of one of Sheela's cupcakes:
Photo by Flickr user massdistraction
And I invite you to check out this pretty shot by Flickr user surlygrrrl of the Letterbox signature cupcake with a little envelope on top! I'm already planning to go back to Minneapolis this summer, partly to try more cupcakes.